I’d like to know your thoughts on how to better do junior hires, regardless of whether you give a talk on it or not.
OK. Well, I have basically no experience managing people, so it’s just some armchair theorizing, but: Seems to me that hiring them to do distillation-ish work is more promising than hiring them to do novel research. 1. Managing someone else doing original research takes some fraction of the time it would take to do the research yourself; managing someone else distilling your research takes some fraction of the time it would take to do the distillation yourself. However I feel that the second fraction is smaller, because you already are up to speed on your own research, no inferential gaps need to be crossed, no new stuff learned, etc. Concretely when I imagine managing someone’s original research, it feels like a lot of work: I have to learn everything they are learning so I can evaluate it. By contrast when I imagine managing someone’s distillation of my own work, it feels rather pleasant: A few lunchtime chats for them to ask clarificatory questions, then I quickly read their draft and give comments, and it doesn’t take much effort because I’m already an expert on the topic and already interested in it.2. Having someone else distill your research also has the bonus effect of providing an external replication attempt for your ideas. It’s a chance for them to be critiqued by someone else, for example. 3. Also someone else might be an inherently better judge of what parts of your research need explaining, and how, than you are, since you’ve been thinking about it so much and in your own way.4. I suspect that distilling the research of more senior researchers is a better way for a junior hire to get up to speed than doing their own research.5. Arguably distillations/explanations/etc. are undervalued in general and on the margin more people should do them. (Because they seem low-status, perhaps—but if we recognize that problem we can partially overcome it, and anyhow it’s less of a problem for junior hires. One example of how to partially overcome it: “We are hiring you to write a textbook-like document distilling all the research our institute has done so far on topic X. This document will go on the website and be shown to potential donors; eventually we may incorporate it into an actual textbook.”)